The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs

Overview

As the violence of the Middle East has come to America, many Westerners are stunned and confounded by this new form of mayhem that appears to be a feature of Arab societies. This important book explains how Arabs are closed in a circle defined by tribal, religious, and cultural traditions. David Pryce-Jones examines the forces which “drive the Arabs in their dealings with each other and with the West.” In the postwar world, he argues, the Arabs reverted to age-old tribal and kinship structures, from which they ...

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Overview

As the violence of the Middle East has come to America, many Westerners are stunned and confounded by this new form of mayhem that appears to be a feature of Arab societies. This important book explains how Arabs are closed in a circle defined by tribal, religious, and cultural traditions. David Pryce-Jones examines the forces which “drive the Arabs in their dealings with each other and with the West.” In the postwar world, he argues, the Arabs reverted to age-old tribal and kinship structures, from which they have been unable to escape. In tribal society, loyalty is extended to close kin and other members of the tribe. The successful nation-state—the model that Westerners understand—generates broader loyalties, but the tribal world has no institutions that have evolved by common consent for the general good. Those who seek power achieve it by plotting secretly and ruthlessly eliminating their rivals. In the Arab world, violence is systemic. "This is a healthy corrective, a thought-provoking study. And Mr. Pryce-Jones has done his research, bringing a wealth of reading to his task; the book is extensively documented, with a good section of reference notes."—David K. Shipler, New York Times Book Review. "Acute insights into how the Middle East works, or fails to work. This is definitely a book to be read, if also one to be thought about carefully and rather critically."—David Morgan, Times Literary Supplement.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
A brilliant insight into the way Arab societies work. A healthy corrective, a thought-provoking study.
— David K. Shipler
Times Literary Supplement - David Morgan
This is definitely a book to be read, if also one to be thought about carefully and rather critically.
Amos Elon
Powerful . . . must be considered and appreciated even by those who think they disagree with it.
Hugh Nissenson
A brilliant book.
Daniel Pipes
A landmark for understanding the politics of the Middle East . . . as brilliant as it is depressing.
Elie Kedourie
Refreshing . . . most stimulating . . . as with the best historical works, The Closed Circle is the outcome, and the resolution, of a puzzlement.
The New York Times - David K. Shipler
A brilliant insight into the way Arab societies work. A healthy corrective, a thought-provoking study.
Daniel Kirk
Excellent. Having lived in Arabia for six years, I can say that this text superbly sets out the historical events that led us to the current situation today and explains many aspects of the culture that are misunderstood.
Hugh Nissenson
A brilliant book.
New York Times Book Review
A brilliant insight into the way Arab societies work. A healthy corrective, a thought-provoking study.
— David K. Shipler
Times Literary Supplement
This is definitely a book to be read, if also one to be thought about carefully and rather critically.
— David Morgan
Christian Book Reviews
A monumental achievement that gives an insight to a normally inaccessible culture that plays such an important role in our politics. The book's chilling analysis has drastic implications for our policies towards this troubled region. It should be necessary reading for anyone concerned with how we answer the challenge of radical Islam.
—Albert McIlhenny
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566638265
  • Publisher: Ivan R Dee
  • Publication date: 2/16/2009
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 825,371
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

David Pryce-Jones is the author of nineteen books of fiction and nonfiction, including The War That Never Was, Paris in the Third Reich, The Face of Defeat, and The Hungarian Revolution, as well as novels and literary biography. He lives in London.

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Table of Contents

Note to the Reader
Preface to the 2002 Edition
Introduction 1
1 Tribal Society and Its Legacy 21
2 Shame and Honor 34
3 Western Approaches 58
4 Power Challenging and Careerism 91
5 Men and Women 122
6 The Turkish Example 138
7 Colonialism 149
8 The Impact of Nazism 184
9 The Impact of Communism 222
10 Arabia and Oil 257
11 The Issue of Palestine 280
12 Power Holders 314
13 Image and Identity 369
Conclusion 402
Source Notes 407
Index 445
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